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Over, And Over, And Over, And Over Again: Isner Wins Another BB&T Atlanta Open Tennis Title

John Isner of the US holds the winner’s trophy after defeating Ryan Harrison of the US during the men’s singles final round match of the BB&T Atlanta Open men’s tennis tournament at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 29 July 2018. Isner won the tournament for the fifth time.  EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

“Not one, not two, not three, not four….”

 

As tournament director Eddie Gonzalez mentioned on the court, that was what LeBron James had to say on the subject of NBA titles the Miami Heat would win after he signed with the team in 2010. LeBron did not quite deliver on that promise. John Isner has delivered that, and more, at the BB&T Atlanta Open.

 

Continuing his dominance at his most successful event on the ATP Tour, Isner beat Ryan Harrison in a second consecutive Atlanta final to win his fifth Atlanta title with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 triumph on Sunday. The world No. 9 was playing in his eighth Atlanta final in nine years of the tournament’s existence.

 

“It’s incredible,” Isner said of his long-time run in Atlanta, which includes a 31-4 overall record. “I think I said it last year–I felt like there may come a time when I’m not back in the finals or I’m not the champion again. But as it stands right now, I’m very happy to be the champ here. Look, I’m very comfortable here. It really feels like I’m at home; that helps so much.”

 

Harrison was almost the champion this time, just he was in 2017–when he lost 7-6(6), 7-6(7) to his good friend and compatriot. The 26-year-old broke Isner at 5-5 in the opening set and had the top seed on the ropes early in the second, with three break points at 1-1 and another at 2-2. But Isner thwarted them without giving Harrison a chance, fighting off one with a service winner, two with inside-out forehand winners, and the fourth with a drop-volley winner.

 

John Isner of the US holds the winner’s trophy after defeating Ryan Harrison of the US during the men’s singles final round match of the BB&T Atlanta Open men’s tennis tournament at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 29 July 2018. Isner won the tournament for the fifth time. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

“Without a doubt, I think if he were to get one of those, I don’t think I’d be standing here the winner,” Isner commented. “So I realize I was fortunate today. But that’s how tennis goes. It’s a weird game. I’ve been on the other end of that where you have four to five chances to put your stamp on the match.”

 

Isner took his own chances thereafter. Clearly finding a second wind in the energy department following his escape in the early stages of set two, the 6’10” American broke for the first time in the very next game–seizing a 4-2 advantage. That allowed Isner to force in decisive third, in which he took control right away with a forehand winner for a break in the opening game.

 

It was all over from there for Harrison, who could not even push Isner to a deuce situation in any return game of the third set. A love hold at 5-4 sealed it in style for the former University of Georgia standout.

 

“I didn’t feel like I was in a lot of return games today, but the ones that I did sink my teeth into, I took advantage of,” Isner said. “On break point in the third set I hit the best shot I hit all match, that forehand inside out on the line. I think in the other matches prior to the final I was in a lot more return games, but I just took advantage of my opportunities today.”

 

That’s exactly what Isner has been doing for the last nine years in Atlanta. Inevitably, he will make a 10th appearance next summer.

 

“I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be back here,” he assured. “I’ve played this now nine years in a row. So make it 10. Why not?”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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